Americanism’s Government Metaphor

Our worldview’s government metaphor shapes our notions about the ideal form and responsibilities of government. It also defines our responsibilities and rights as citizens, our expectations of our government, our social conventions, and more.

Americanism’s government metaphor was the Government Is Fire metaphor:

Government Is Fire Metaphor
• Government is fire.

History and experience with European tyranny taught traditional Americans that over-powerful government was dangerous. Like fire, it was a necessary evil – essential for civilization and useful in many ways, but inherently perilous. It could grow, burn and destroy. As George Washington said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a handy servant and a dangerous master.” The Government Is Fire metaphor engendered unconscious beliefs like “Government is necessary for civilization,” “government should be kept as small as possible while still performing its functions,” and “unrestrained government is perilous.”

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